There is an article entitled “Death in Islam” that is read at every funeral I’ve been to. I remember the first time I heard it, actually listened to it, at my own grandfather’s funeral. It told me that the separation of soul and body is called death, that death is a natural phenomenon and should be borne patiently with strength, that weeping is a sign of tenderness but outbursts of emotion are frowned upon. Whenever anyone reads the article out loud, I am reminded of the teacher’s voice in Charlie Brown. It is comforting in the most boring way imaginable.
Whenever I hear of a death, I hear the people around me, those close to me, automatically say things like, “Well, what can you do?” or “He/she’s in a better place” or, my personal favorite, “I guess it was meant to happen.” Maybe it’s my youth (I’m young. Really, I am.) or my relatively recent introduction to and, therefore, lack of experience with, death, but statements like these make me mad. Not sad, not upset, not annoyed, just plain angry.
Predicting that someone specifically decided that this person was to die on this particular day, for this particular reason, is a bit of a stretch to me, and it’s hard for me to get on board with something that sounds like the explanation for death you’d give to a young child. But, alas, what else do we have but statements like these in the face of death?
Loss hurts. As long as you are a human with a human heart, it is something you rarely move on from. A piece of you leaves your world, sometimes with no warning. You feel as if the pain will never be blunted and nothing will ever make you smile again. You will always be angry and doubtful and resentful. You will never understand why.
I’ve found that when I feel like this, that obvious, boring article on death comforts me. When you’re sitting there, thinking about what you’ve lost and unavoidably feeling the sharpness in your heart and mind, this article is a heartbeat. It consistently reminds me of all the other times I’ve heard it. All the funerals I’ve been to in the past, for people who I never even really knew, and all the funerals I’ll probably attend in the future. In all the anger and confusion in my head, it is like a drumbeat with the steady reminder that this, too, shall pass. The sharpness will go away, leaving me with a duller, quieter, achier pain. I won’t always be in a rage. Though life will never be easy, I will continue living.
When I’m advised to call on my faith in the face of death or loss, I don’t automatically call on God. I call upon this faith – the knowledge and feeling that death can, must, fit into some idea of normalcy, though it doesn’t feel like it right away.